Happy 4th of July to all our friends in the US! To celebrate, we have put together a list of interesting facts about the Irish-American community.
An Irishman was the first of Christopher Columbus’ crew to step on American soil. Some historians believe that Columbus himself was beaten to the punch by the Irish-born Patrick Maguire who was one of several Irish crew-mates who sailed the ocean blue with the great explorer in 1492.
Nine signatories of the Declaration of Independence were Irish. Three signers, Matthew Thornton, George Taylor and James Smith, were born in Ireland; the remaining six Irish Americans, George Read, Thomas McKean, Thomas Lynch, Jr., Edward Rutledge,Charles Thompson and Charles Carroll, were descendants of Irish immigrants.
22 American presidents boast Irish roots. While John F. Kennedy is the perhaps the most famous Irish-American Commander-In-Chief, he did not have the most direct ties to the Old Country. This distinction belongs in fact to Andrew Jackson whose parents were born in County Antrim.
The White House was built by Irishmen. The beautiful residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave was in fact designed by James Hoban – an architect born in the heart of County Kilkenny. It is said that he closely modeled the design of the White House on Leinster House which is now home to Dail Éireann (the Irish Parliament). Irish labourers were key in the construction of the building with many in particular working on the bricking and plastering.
33 million people in America claim Irish ancestry. That’s a whopping 10.5% of the total population and seven times the population of Ireland.
An Irish-American man established the Ford Motor Company. Henry Ford’s father was born in the rural West Cork town of Ballinascarthy. Henry Ford was immensely proud of his Irish roots and celebrated this fact by opening the first Ford factory outside the US on April 17th 1917 in Cork City. The factory accounted for 8% of the city’s workforce until its sad closure in 1984.
The Wild West’s most famous cowboy, Billy the Kid, was an Irish American named Henry McCarthy. One historian has uncovered evidence which suggests that the gunfighter was a fluent Irish speaker and may have even acted as a translator for Gaelic-speaking immigrants.
Header Image Source: Wikimedia Commons